A number of years ago, Kathy and I were leaving her family home in New Brunswick after spending the Christmas holidays there. We had made this trip numerous times but the challenge on this particular day was that the heater was not working in our car.
Being the tough guy I thought I was, I was only wearing jeans, running shoes and a leather jacket, but no gloves or hat. With the set of towels we received on Christmas to keep us relatively warm and food for the road, we were off on a typical New Brunswick frigid, winter day.
The drive home was uneventful; I wouldn’t say we were warm but we were doing okay and we were making good time (that’s a guy thing). 3-4 hours into our 14 hour trip we were somewhere in Quebec. Suddenly we came upon two guys wondering the highway with a car on the shoulder. With no one else around we stopped to inquire. They told us they were fine but the women were in trouble. “What women?” I asked. “They’re in the truck.” I didn’t see any truck but then I caught a glimpse of it over the embankment about 40 feet below us.
Without thinking (and without gloves, boots or a hat) I quickly made my way through the snow, down to the vehicle. One women was on the ground and two more were inside. I yelled up to Kathy to throw down our towels. While Kathy fed the guys our lunch, I stayed below with the women. I wrapped the head of the first woman (I won’t go into detail but I could hardly look at the gash in her head, it was so deep…I think the cold saved her life). I propped myself where the windshield use to be in the truck to block the wind. I talked with the other 2 women still inside who did not seem injured, just terrified. Did I mention it was windy and easily -20 degrees?
To make a long story short, it took 45 minutes for emergency crews to arrive but no one helped in the meantime…crowds of people were watching but no one offered assistance until an Ontario trucker stopped and came down with a comforter to warm the women.
Eventually we got each woman to the surface and all five people were transported to a local hospital. (they were all treated, released and eventually got to their home in PEI). Kathy and I made our way to our vehicle and she had to help me in because I could hardly walk. As we sat in the car, we had to pause to take in what had just happened. After being out in the cold for over an hour with no gloves or hat, wearing jeans and running shoes, I began to cry, hurting from the cold. And now without towels or food.
I didn’t know what to do…I didn’t think I could drive (as a rule I didn’t let Kathy drive…but that’s a story for another day). I couldn’t feel my hands and my entire body felt like it could crumble into pieces with the slightest provocation.
Cold and hungry we prayed. “God, thank you for allowing us to help this family, but we are desperate. We are cold and we need help. God we need the heater in our car to work and we know you can do this. Please help us.”
We opened our eyes, looked at each other and I turned the key…I have to admit I was completely surprised the heater came on…in a few minutes the heat was working like it never was broken…we sat there for about 15 minutes warming up and wondering how long it would last. We started out again and the heater worked until we hit Toronto…eight hours later. At that point it shut off and never worked again but by then we didn’t care. We were close to home and we were warm.
As a Christian I do believe God loves us cares about us but I have to admit, I really didn’t think our prayer that day, on the shoulder of a highway, in the middle of nowhere, would be answered so specifically and so quickly. There is no way the heater in our car should have worked but God did something incredible.
Do you ever feel like God is distant or uninvolved in the details of your life? I think we can all find ourselves there sometimes. Even if intellectually we know differently, sometimes God can seem so far away.
Does God seem near or far from you today? If the gospel shows us anything, it’s that God chooses to be close to us. Jesus left the glory of heaven to live among us, He ate and talked with people and spent time with them. He learned about them and loved them. Whatever your circumstances today, know that God is still doing that today. God loves you and cares about you.
If I ever start to feel that God is distant or uninvolved in my life, I just have to think back to the day He provided all that I needed on that cold winter day.
I love the words from Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”